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Got a Nose for Numbers? Volunteer as a Tax Preparer

Have you been looking for a way to use your financial background to help give something back to your hometown? Tax-Aide, a free AARP Foundation program that has helped more than 36 million people file their tax returns over the past 40 years, might be just the ticket.

“Tax-Aide is the AARP Foundation’s largest nationwide volunteer run program. We help more than 60,000 people in Wisconsin every year, and look forward to assisting taxpayers across the state and nation again in 2011,” said AARP Wisconsin Program Coordinator Jennifer Baier.

“But this program only works if we get tremendous volunteers from local communities. These are neighbors helping their neighbors who might need a little extra help completing their tax returns accurately and on time.”

Tax-Aide is free and confidential. The service is available to middle and low income taxpayers of all ages with special attention to those age 60 and older. The program is operated by local volunteers who are IRS certified and trained to assist in filing basic federal and state income tax returns.

So what are the qualities that make a good Tax-Aide volunteer?

“We’re always looking for dynamic, energetic and technologically savvy volunteers with a head for finance and a solid background in taxes, accounting or law,” Baier said. “The volunteers who keep coming back year after year tell us they feel very good about how many people they are able to assist. So many folks with limited resources are so appreciative that this program is available to them in their own communities,” Baier said. “And the best part about becoming a Tax-Aide volunteer is that you will learn new skills and stay up to date with changes in tax law.”

Tax-Aide is a collaboration between the AARP Foundation, the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Hundreds of Tax-Aide sites are set up in communities across Wisconsin, offering the service from Feb. 1 through April 15.
The AARP Foundation works with the IRS and the Department of Revenue to help create the volunteer staff at Tax-Aide sites. Volunteer positions currently being sought include technical coordinators, telephone coordinators and tax counselors.

The program has volunteers of all ages, races, ethnic groups, income levels, and educational backgrounds. Volunteers are provided with comprehensive training to become IRS certified to assist in filing basic tax forms.

Volunteers’ hours are challenging but flexible. “We ask volunteers to commit an average of six hours of tax preparation per week in your own county during the tax season,” Baier said.

There is no cost to the taxpayer for this service, and volunteers receive no pay, except for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses for travel and the knowledge that they are helping others who would otherwise be unable to do their taxes.

Those interested in volunteering may call the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide hotline at 1-888-227-7669. Press 1 for Tax Aide and then press 2 for volunteering. A real person will talk live with you. You can also visit Tax-Aide online.

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